|Text to accompany Fig 2
|Text to accompany Fig 1 p. 2
species being, in an expanded form, is what this entire site is about. Species being has, in hegelmarx and beyond, been cast in a positive light. This site, while sharing in some of that naive optimism (the basis for the progressive dynamic, whether in reformist or revolutionary form), for the most part takes a grim view of the whole developmental dynamic of the semiotisized primate.
Man creates himself, mostly unconsciously, and with unintended consequences that become the new fundamentals. Today's cognitive developmental crisis in the U.S. may be seen as a neccesary consequence of the culture of narcissism (Hall), as well as a contingent effect of the peculiarities of American politics (the crusade against reason combined with a deepening economic polarization).
•••The development of organizational webs, especially in finance, consumption, and politics is of far-reaching import. Political networks on the right mobilize the forces of ressentiment and in so doing amplify the primate forces of dominance and deference at the expense of Bildung. The political networks of mass consumption--not only producers of products but also producers and distributors of images--foster a culture of narcissism that, as Hall et. al. have argued, shatters the capacity for ego development, a development that is cognitive as well as characterological. And financial webs have become the backers of the new right, thus amplifying ressentiment and reinforcing the ape within. But more, they are now preying on the education sector, subverting it both intellectually and organizationally (see Relay University).
An inkling of this disaster was evident in the response of the pre-Revolutionary Russian socialists (see Smith); post-WWII critics have also noted the increasing infantilization of culture (Moretti, Lasch, Barber, Hall et. al.). But only now have these tendencies exploded onto the scene, with as yet unforseeable consequnces. Hall et. al. must be given credit for providing the deepest insight so far into what is happening. (see 1. nuclear accident and cognitive decay, and 2. U.S. corporations are already adapting sociotechnical systems to cognitive decay.) Worse than stupid: current discourse on education--see NBC Education Nation. More on worse than stupid: American Exceptionalism: Education without Development (an assessment of the cognitive performativity of the rhetoric of reform). For the most advanced discourse in education, see Pasi Sahlberg, "A Model Lesson: Finland Shows Us What Equal Opportunity Looks Like," American Educator, Vol. 36, No. 1, Spring 2012. (But compare this with his Finnish Lessons. The American Educator article leaves out any specific reference to poliical parties, an effect of pervasive reactionary force field shaping the semiosphere.)
Freedom: 1. as the apotheosis of the individual, and 2. as a merely formal concept (absence of restraint). As soon as one looks for the substantive (ontological, historical, contextual, praxiological) expressions of freedom, it quickly loses is glamour, its uncontested ideological purity (see eat cook love www.cbc.ca/doczone/). Just as, as soon as one looks at actual humans the myth of the people (Stark, Nietzsche) withers.
Figure 1 is only one crude indication of the developmental catastrophe that has befallen non-elite Americans. Finland's leading place among European nations, acording to Pasi Sahlberg (Finnish Lessons: What can the World Learn from Eductional Change in Finland: Teachers College Press, 2011) is rooted not just in the educational reforms of the 1970s, but in the immediate post World War II political environment in which the three major parties--Social Democratic, Communist, and Agrarian Centre--made education their major goal (pp. 16-17). Conversely, the stunningly poor performance of the United States, especially of its working class populations, is in part a result of the demonization of modern thought combined with the assault on public schools led by a coalition of right-wing Republicans and Wall Street buccaneers. Not only is cognitive development a fundamental issue in the post-modern world. The history and fate of the "left" (in which I include the Keynesian elite and the broader milieu with which it was entangled) in America now appears in a new context: the defeat of the New Deal sealed our fate as a nation. In figure 1 the U.S. as a whole is at the bottom. But that portion of the United States whose cognitive modality dominates our political culture is below the bottom (the Palin zone).
More generally, the developmental process, so central to the making of modern societies, was violently opposed by the forces of ressentiment, the multitude of reactive socio-cultural elites and their constituencies around the world, from the Catholic counter-Enlightenment (which reached its hysterical pitch in the Spanish Civil War), to Islamic fundamentalism, to the rise of Protestant fundamentalism in the United States, where we now know that the Scopes trial of 1927 was only prelude to today's massive fusion of the Republican Party with a reactionary mass unprecedented in American history.
The war between the forces of reason and the forces of ressentiment is the core reality of modern times, from the Enlightenment to the present (see McMahon, Enemies of the Enlightenment). On the Enlightenment the work of Jonathan Israel can be taken as canonical (even though--or rather precisely because--he has come under criticism): A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy (Princeton, 2010), Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man 1670-1752 (Oxford, 2006), and Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights 1750-1790 (Oxford, 2011). In addition, Arno J. Mayer, The Persistence Of The Old Regime : Europe To The Great War (Pantheon Books, 1981), is that rare Marxist who takes seriously the historical forces of reaction.
The Enlightement as a revolution of the mind indeed, but conceptually amplified by reference to the works of the developmental psychologists; and second, the Counter-Enlightenment of the ancien regime built on the forces of ressentiment, the psychological raw materials, that already permeated society, certainly from the first crusade onwards. Israel approaches but does not explicitly develop the ontological-developmental dimensions of the Enlightenment. And Israel and Mayer similarly sidle up to but do not develop the ontological dimensions of reaction.
***Hegel-Marx on species being is only an initial formulation of an historical, sociocultural, cognitive developmental perspective. And Vygotsky-Bronfenbrenner et. al., in confining themselves to educational issues, leave relatively unexplored what in fact could not really emerge as a problematic until the present, when we are beginning to see things hitherto unimaginable. (But see Hall, et. al., Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture.)
***The dialectical-developmental notion in hegelmarx in its early form has a hopeful, optimistic, progressive ring to it. It did not understand that power could have the effect of producing a new kind of barbarism (of which the Holocaust is only the tip of the iceberg), and fuse this with archaic, pre-human forces on the one hand, while on the other hand produce an explosion of narcissistic desire, all of this being played out in the perverse theaters of public and private life. Left for dead in this postmodern rubble of a species gone mad is Bildung.
***It is a fantastic irony that it is the hegelmarx conceptual gambit that provides the deepest insight into the collapse of the very ontological possibilities of the kind of politics that both Hegel and Marx envisaged, a politics of Bildung (civic republicanism)BOOKS. The argument that human nature conforms to the (Adam)Smith-myth (the myth modernized: "If anything, Marxism, with its fundamental humanism, does not even approach the utter materialism of present-day Western trends such as neoliberal economic theory, "rational choice" political science, neurochemical psychology, and reductionist Darwinist/geneticist sociology.") is shattered upon the rock of today's reality, where "chimpanzee politics" (de Waal) merges with the psychology of ressentiment and a regressive narcissism. And where, as Figure 1 suggests, cognitive regression, not further development, is the order of the day. Species being in a new key. Only Nietzsche glimpsed these possibilities, although even he would be astounded by what we have become.
***Yet another part of the story of cognitve regression is that the same financial bucaneers who are engineering the destruction of the cognitive-developmental praxis of education are also a major force behind the attack on science in the public sphere.
The power of institutional networks to shape the semiosphere in their own political and economic interest has not only been underestimated but ignored by liberal critics. By demonizing scientific--that is, formal operational--reasoning, right-wing media constitute a negative zone of proximal development that is especially powerful in its effect. For those subsets of the population caught up in its web, it reinforces all the pathologies of ressentiment, demonizes scientific (that is, formal operational) thought, and fundamentally subverts development.
We now have a situation where certain primate structures of identity and deference can be reinforced and idolized by powerful forces in society, at the expense of the development of bourgeois--that is, formal operational--structures. (Mayer, Persistence, pp. 132-37; Hall, Winlow and Ancrum, Criminal Identities, Wrangham and Wilson, "Collective Violence: Comparison Between Youths and Chimpanzees"; Mazur, Biosociology of Dominance and Deference)
What if the most reactionary organizational machines of complex societies build their hegemony precisely on our most primitive biological inheritance, so that Franz de Waal's Chimpanzee Politics becomes the neo-chimpanizee politics of today's rightwing? What if the humans on display in Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense are in fact gangs (Wrangham) for whom the little bit of colored ribbon is the gang's fetish; and therefore, certain forms of "patriotism" can be traced to the behavior of primate gangs? What if certain forms of patriotism rest on such primitive cognitive foundations that the nation as such is literally inconceivable?
Indeed, because of the enormous divergent developmental possibilities immanent to modern capitalism* (exacerbated in the United States and minimized in Finland) not only youth gangs, but many behavioral modalities of modern right wing politics--see Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense--are much closer to the behavior of chimpanzees** than to the behavior of Mozart, Goethe, and similar "communist" types of humans (the Wellman interview) to whom could be applied the concept of Bildung.
All the huffing and puffing about our educational crisis is itself not merely a symptom of that decline; it is also an active force driving that decline even further (Watch CNN and MSNBC to see what I mean). One can say with confidence that the socio-cultural-political forces key to the creation of modern minds, having developed over two and a half centuries, and having been degraded if not destroyed in today's America, can hardly be recovered by some blue ribbon committee, the posturing of a Bill Gates, the demonization of teachers' unions, the implementing of a punitive regime of testing, and the predation of financial entrepreneurs in education. For the United States, the enormous success of reaction in breaking the backbone of the enlightement as a cultural force has just begun to be felt. Figure 1 is prelude, a lagging indicator, of cognitive decline. What has been set in motion by the forces of reaction has an unstoppable momentum. One can see that for decades down the road the United States will continue to decline, a decline that is concentrated in the segments of the population most directly under the sway of the right-wing noise machine: white and black fundamentalists, and working class Catholics. See Intel Science Talent Search 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012: Finalists
To see how this undermines capitalism qua productive activity, click here.
* this developmental dynamic actually contradicts the generally static meaning of the term Being. Better to say that the chief characteritic of human history is its ontological dynamism and instability. Better to say something like species praxis rather than species being. Even praxis, with its implication of a homogeneous actor, misses the point. Ontological dynamisim, differentiation, disintegration; multiple ontologies, regressive ontologies . . . .
**"Collective Violence: Comparison Between Youths and Chimpanzees", by Richard W. Wrangham, Department of Anthropology, Peabody Museum, Harvard University, and Michael L. Wilson (Department of Ecology and Behavior, University of Minnesota, and Gombe Stream Research Centre, the Jane Goodall Institute, Tanzania [Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1036: 233–256 (2004)]
d'Holbach (and Spinoza) saw into Here we are, looking into our Heart of Darkness. the dark side of democracy--the "people." They saw that democracy could be merely the form--the theatrical framework--within which political parties and their demagogues could manipulate the situational-symbolic-enactments
that characterizes DG the human psyche. These darker elements : our Primate inheritance and ressentiment, ((and regressive narcissism)).
The fourth--Bildung (and what is at stake for America today)—is the developmental quantum leap made possible by culture, just as culture and language were quantum leaps beyond mere biology. Chase refers to the emergent property of human culture, another way of refering to the quantum leap that culture represented. Bildung emerges out of this emergent property of human culture--a second emergence. Indeed, while Chase refers to the continuity of this first emergence with our primate inheritance--this is the import of Wrangham and Wilson's work--Bildung represents a definitive break with our primate inheritance--a break, and a negation. It is Bildung as a mode of life that finally becomes the basis for modernity and development. And it is Bildung that is now being undermined not only by the persistence of all the old crap, but also by new forces that have only recently emerged.
“current state of negotiations are” 5-17-18 MSNBC